While not officially categorized as a ‘must win’ game for the Boston Red Sox, Game 2 was about as close as you could get.
After losing their ALCS home opener and Justin Verlander looming for the Tigers in Game 3, beating Detroit starter Max Scherzer wasn’t going to be easy, but in order to tie the series and head to Motown for what would essentially become a best-of-five, it had to be done.
Things started off well for both clubs, though Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz did run into a bit of trouble come the second inning when he allowed multiple base runners to reach. And although he avoided major damage by dancing around the trouble, Detroit was able to take a 1-0 lead thanks to an Alex Avila RBI single which plated Victor Martinez.
That lead would hold until the top of the sixth, which was when the flood gates opened on Buchholz.
A towering fly ball from Miguel Cabrera just cleared the Green Monster, giving Detroit a 2-0 lead which they would extend just a few batters later thanks to consecutive doubles from Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez. The onslaught wasn’t complete though as Alex Avila, who already had the first RBI of the night hit a two-run home run to right field, capping the offensive attack which gave the Tigers a 5-0 lead.
The Red Sox did answer back the following half-inning thanks to a Dustin Pedroia home run, though, it put nothing more than a dent into the Tigers’ now 5-1 lead, much of that thanks to the pitching of the aforementioned Scherzer who was downright filthy, striking out 13 in seven innings.
Scherzer left eligible for a win, but an eighth inning rally from the Red Sox spoiled that as a two out, grand slam from David Ortiz off Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit tied the game at 5-5. Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter raced after the screaming drive from Ortiz, flipping over the short outfield wall into the Red Sox’s bullpen as the ball cleared his glove by inches. Hunter, despite looking as if he had blood coming from the back of his head, would stay in the game.
The score would remain knotted until the bottom of the ninth when Jonny Gomes lead off the inning with a well placed ground ball to shortstop, which Tigers infielder Jose Iglesias threw wide of first base. That allowed Gomes to advance to second where he moments later advanced to third on a wild pitch. Just two pitches later, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia smacked a game-winning RBI single up the middle, completing the six-run comeback.
With a travel day Monday, the Tigers will attempt to regroup while the Red Sox will try to ride their momentum into Game 3 at Comerica Park, Tuesday evening.